Riddell: Group sales pitches need thoughtful redundancy

Riddell: Group sales pitches need thoughtful redundancy

July 13th, 2010 by John Riddell Jr. in Business Diary

For readers of this column, it is no secret that I place much emphasis on revenue generation as the key to survival for small businesses.

At the same time, small businesses are acutely aware of the need to conserve cash and aggressively focus on ways to multiply the value of every marketing dollar.

A natural outcome of these three goals is the increase in group presentations. Unfortunately, such presentations can be a wasteful trap for the unprepared entrepreneur.

Many entrepreneurs know the importance of a clear and concise selling presentation and have refined their spiels. Knowing the operational imperative of understanding the individual client, their awareness is tuned to hearing, understanding and addressing specific needs.

They know that if they can positively address these needs with their product or service they can ask the magic closing question and usually get a favorable response.

Group presentations are not intended to result in a closed sale. These gatherings are merely a more cost-effective process for generating qualified leads, a step to the anticipated one-on-one meeting referenced above. Focusing in on too-finite a set of selected and defined features and benefits may very well miss the mark for a number of attendees. Better to present in much broader terms yet use a number of different specifics as examples.

Another group dynamic communication to be aware of is the communication style(s) requirement for the audience.

When engaging in a one-on-one presentation, once a communication style has been determined, it is just a matter of training and discipline to stay on point. With a group, however, the audience will be comprised of the full gamut of language styles. It is incumbent upon the presenter to make important points in at least two or three ways. Thoughtful redundancy allows the message to be received by a wider audience.

Finally, people involved with group presentations need always to be aware that their audience has given them a commitment of their time. Embracing this tremendous responsibility, the presenter has to prove that the time is worthwhile. From the quality of the information to the quality of the Q&A to the energy level, all have to be the very best the presenter can muster. Whether they are going to buy anything or not, attendees have a consumer right to expect nothing less.

If you are not pursuing group presentations, give some thought to it. Maybe in the interest of savings, you might want to partner with someone selling a different product to ostensibly the same market. In any event, think through your presentation's main points and lead the audience through an entertaining discussion. Most importantly, make sure that you have the mechanism in place to capture every interested, now qualified lead, and then schedule the best time for the one-on-one sales call.

John F. Riddell Jr., director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Growth-Hamilton County, writes every other Tuesday about entrepreneurs and their impact on companies and the marketplace. Submit comments to his attention by writing to Business Editor John Vass Jr., Chattanooga Times Free Press, P.O. Box 1447, Chattanooga, TN 37401-1447, or by e-mailing him at business@timesfreepress.com.